Firefighters are to continue in their CPR response role

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation classes are run at Coldstream fire station.
Cardiopulmonary resuscitation classes are run at Coldstream fire station.

A trial project involving sending firefighters to help heart attack victims while ambulance crews make their way to the scene is being extended.

Coldstream, Hawick and Lauder’s fire crews are part of a joint initiative by the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service and the Scottish Ambulance Service aiming to increase survival rates by providing casualties with vital early intervention.

Fire and rescue service deputy chief officer Alex Clark said: “This trial is part of our support for efforts to dramatically reduce the number of people in Scotland who die from out-of-hospital cardiac arrests.

“While paramedics and firefighters have very different roles, we often work closely together, and our crews are potentially able to keep someone alive until they can get specialist medical help from our ambulance colleagues.

“Time is crucial to the chance of survival, and since the trial started on November 1 last year, we have already seen fire and rescue crews who arrive first on scene make that life-saving difference.”

The fire brigade is one of the partner organisations in the Save a Life for Scotland campaign, launched in a bid to significantly increase survival chances.

Firefighters at participating stations have received enhanced training in life-support and can provide attention until paramedics arrive.

Jim Ward, medical director of the Scottish Ambulance Service, added: “If a fire service resource with a crew who are trained to provide high-quality cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and have a defibrillator is nearest to the patient, then ambulance control will dispatch them at the same time as the ambulance crew.”

Firefighters have also been delivering CPR training to people throughout Scotland using kits provided by the British Heart Foundation.

Anyone interested in learning CPR is encouraged to contact their local fire station and arrange a time to visit.